by Jennifer O'Brien

Samantha Gavel named NSW Privacy Commissioner

Jun 22, 2017
Technology Industry

Samantha Gavel has been tapped as the new full-time New South Wales Privacy Commissioner, a role she scoops from Elizabeth Coombes, who had been acting in the position part-time over a five-year period.

Gavel is currently the national health practitioner ombudsman and privacy commissioner. She was appointed in November 2014 for a term of three years.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the proposed appointment of Gavel as NSW Privacy Commissioner comes after an independent recruitment process led by the NSW Public Service Commissioner.

The appointment will need to be considered by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Ombudsman, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission and the Crime Commission.

“Ms Gavel is a leader in privacy protection who is currently the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner, and was previously the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman for six years,” Speakman said in a statement.

“She has extensive experience in raising awareness about privacy rights, investigating complaints, resolving disputes and helping agencies meet their obligations to protect the personal information of individuals.”

As well as having a deep knowledge and understanding of Australia’s health system, Gavel has significant experience in complaints handling, dispute resolution and ombudsman work.

She is the former Commonwealth Private Health Insurance Ombudsman between 2008 and 2014, and also worked in senior administrative roles for both NSW and Commonwealth government organisations.

She is an experienced mediator and an independent member of the Private Health Insurance Code of Conduct Compliance Committee.

Meanwhile, Speakman thanked Dr Elizabeth Coombs for her work as privacy commissioner over the last five years and for acting in the position since her term expired in November.

“Dr Coombs’ impartial advice and advocacy on privacy represents a substantial contribution to this growing area of the law. I thank her for her commitment and passion and I wish her well in her future endeavours,” he said.

“The NSW Government recognises the importance of privacy protection at a time when advancements in digital technology are continually raising new challenges to the security of personal information.

That’s why the government is now making the Privacy Commissioner a full-time position and, subject to the outcome of the Joint Parliamentary Committee process, I look forward to Ms Gavel applying her considerable expertise for the benefit of this state.”